Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 29 July 1783

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes July 29. 1783.

Dear & hond Sir.

I have received your kind Letter of the 18 Inst. and thank you for your Advice which I shall always follow.6 I have had a Consultation with my Creditors here which has terminated in the most favourable Manner possible. Instead of meeting men Angry from disappointment I found myself in the midst of compassionate Friends, & they unanimously offered me 2 Years to pay in, by quarterly payments of 6 months, the first payment to be at the end of 8 instead of 6 Months thereby allowing me two months to collect the Sense of my other Creditors. My Reputation here has suffered but a momentary Check, for the Accot of my Stoppage & the arrangement were know at nearly the same Time, & instead of any Reproaches on my Conduct I have had several friendly Visits congratulating me on the general Satisfaction my Affair had given on ’Change, & the Esteem I appeard to enjoy among the Merchants of this Place.

My Creditors have unanimously reccommended me to renew my Letters of Sûrseance for a Year as soon as possible, and as those I have do not extend further than 6 of September7 they desire me not to wait their Expiration. This they wish for as a common Security to prevent anyone from obtaining an hypotheque by a Sentence against me, which would give such a One a prefference in his Payment. I suppose the same motives which induced the Count de Vergennes to favour me on my first Application will be stronger on my Second, as it is by desire of my Creditors that I make it. I shall be greatly obliged to you if you will apply for me. Billy I doubt not will go to Vesailles & negociate the Business for me & a Letter from you expressing that you have such reliance on my Veracity as to be able to assure the Count that my Creditors desire it for their own Sakes. If it is absolutely necessary I will get them all to sign an Application, but I have not time at present, & as it is no new Favour but only a prolongation of one already granted, I have no Doubt of your Success.—8 What has distressed me more than anything else is the Amount I owe Mr Grand. If I had not realy believed I could have gone on I never would have engaged him, & indeed but for the Disappointment in receiving a considerable Sum I expected I should have made him large Remittances before I thought of Stopping. His Son9 has written to me very harshly, more so than the Father would have done; however difficult it is, I do & Shall bear all with Patience & Resignation, and I hope from my last Letter to him he will not repeat his Reproaches.

Mr Baches Bill on me is in the hands of Messrs Le Couteulx & Co & is for 25000 l.t., You can run no Risque in paying this Bill1 so far as relates to me, for if I owe money to Messrs Bache & Shee they have between 4 & 5000 pounds Curny [Currency] of my Property in their Hands but instead of my owing them they owe me considerably, and I am Surprised they should draw on me; It is true I gave them Liberty to draw for the amount of a Cargo of Flour in case they had previously remitted me what the owed me: I will not pretend to judge ’till I receive their Accounts.

The Bills I deposited in your Hands for Messrs Barclay & Moylan will be due 10 of next month, care must be taken to receive the amount at the Time otherwise in Case any of the Bills Should prove bad the Drawers are not answerable if they are over due before demanded. I inclose sufficient Authority for you to acquit the Bills Signing par procuration de J. Williams. If Mr Barclay does not get the arrests taken off,2 I should be sorry to have the money lay dead, please therefore to get Mr Grand to change it into good Solid Bills at 2 or 3 Usances that I may enjoy the Interest. You will please not to dispossess yourself of this money or its value, without previously informing me as Mr Barclay owes me about 10,000 Livres for my advances for Prisonners3 which I must deduct.

I beg you will pardon the Trouble I give, & continue to honour me with your Affection; You may depend, that in the most trying Circumstances I will never deviate from those Principles of Honour & Probity, by which only I can hope to enjoy your Friendship.

I am as ever most dutifully & Affectionately Yours.

Jona Williams J

I beg Sir you will use your Influence with Mr Grand to induce him to agree with my other Creditors agreeable to my Letter to him of this date. He can surely have no Objection to my obtaining an Arrét de Surseance for a longer Time as it is for his Interest that I go on, and he being my largest Creditor may add a Weight in the Scale in case it should be wanted to succeed with Mr de Vergennes.

Doctor Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The letter has not been found; for the advice see JW to BF, Aug. 9.

7For JW’s three-month arrêt de surséance granted on June 6 see BF to Vergennes, June 3.

8JW enclosed a memoir of the same date, addressed to Vergennes: as the ships he had been expecting from America had still not arrived, his creditors had unanimously encouraged him to request an extension on his arrêt for a year beyond its current expiration (i.e., to Sept. 6, 1784) on the same terms as the original. He begged Vergennes for this extension on behalf of himself and Williams, Moore & Co. JW then wrote to WTF, asking him to deliver to Vergennes the memoir and whatever letter BF might write. He gave WTF detailed instructions on how to monitor the stages of the application so that it was granted without delay: JW to Vergennes, July 29, 1783 (AAE); JW to WTF, July 29, 1783 (APS). No letter from BF in favor of this second application has been found.

9Most likely Jean-François-Paul, as Henry left Paris during the summer (seemingly in late July) for an extended tour of the Continent and England. He was still in England in October: Henry Grand to WTF, Oct. 1, [1783], APS.

1BF eventually did so. The bill, drawn by Bache & Shee, was paid out of his private account on Sept. 18: JW to Bache & Shee, July 30, 1783 (Yale University Library); Account XVII (XXVI, 3).

2Of the prize proceeds of the Alliance, for which see Vergennes’ third letter of June 20 and the one immediately above. Williams, Moore & Co. owed Barclay, Moylan & Co. for a purchase made on behalf of Alexander J. Alexander from the sale of the Alliance’s prizes. JW had deposited bills of exchange with BF to complete the transaction, giving him power of attorney to sign them over to Barclay, Moylan & Co. once all claims by French subjects were settled: XXXIX, 423; Chardon to Vergennes, June 17, 1783 (AAE); JW to Barclay, Moylan & Co., July 14, 1783 (Yale University Library). The enclosed power of attorney has not been located.

3By this time, in fact, JW was owed something closer to 9,000 l.t. for the clothing, lodging, board, and passage he had furnished since April to Americans released from British and French prisons. They included Lt. St. Clair (XXXVII, 680–2) and several women and children, most of whom left for Philadelphia on July 13 on the Hannibal, Capt. Conyngham. JW submitted his account to Barclay for reimbursement on Dec. 3, 1783: Account XXVII (XXXII, 4); JW to Barclay, June 21, July 12, July 15, and Nov. 6, 1783 (Yale University Library); JW to WTF, Aug. 16, 1783 (APS); M. B. Clark, “Narrative of Captain Gustavus Conyngham, U.S.N., While in Command of the ‘Surprise’ and ‘Revenge,’ 1777–1779,” PMHB, XXII (1898), 488.

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